How To Stay Motivated When Self-Employed

Written by Jane Wardle on January 30, 2019

Updated March 9, 2022

Bored business woman

Being self-employed is looked upon as the dream. Working from home if you so wish, being your own boss, managing your own hours and doing a job that you love. In writing, it does indeed seem that way. However, in reality, self-employment and staying motivated can be a challenge beyond the powers of even the most straight and narrow individual.

Write up your own business plan – and stick to it

What are your goals for the next six months? The next year? If you can’t answer those questions off the cuff, then chances are you need to work on your motivation. Motivated self-employed people are more than aware of exactly where they want their business to go and the effort they are willing to put in to achieve these goals.

Reminding yourself of where you intend on being at the end of the year on a particularly tough day, for example, could be the push in the right direction that you need to get you back to being the most productive and motivated version of you. Be aware that business plans should change as time goes on, to realign with your targets and your projections for the rest of the year.

Being realistic is important, so if you are over-zealous at the start of the year and need to realign your expectations with the reality of the situation, then your business plan needs the freedom to do so.

Sometimes, you need an incentive to stay motivated. Think of something that will motivate you to work harder – perhaps a treat upon completion of a project, or a glass of wine at the end of the day if you manage to finish everything on your list by 5 pm. Whatever incentive you choose, reward your small victories to keep you motivated towards your larger goals.

Stick to a routine

You cannot motivate yourself to do something if you don’t get going with it in the first place- start every day in the same way and get yourself into a routine. Spend part of your morning, before you start working properly, reflecting on the previous day’s work and looking at your goals for that day.
Make sure you know exactly what you want to get done during the working day and make a list of priorities to reflect this. It’s very easy to spend your time doing the more interesting jobs and letting important but more tedious tasks linger around until the very end. Stick to your list of priorities and make sure that they are the first tasks to be accomplished each day.

Looking after yourself is often the last thing on your plate if you lead a busy life. When you’re responsible for your own earnings, staying on top of sleep and keeping a balanced diet can sometimes be the last things on your mind but looking after yourself is just as important as getting that last piece of work done. Being in the best possible shape can only positively influence your work and your work ethic – if you’re constantly feeling tired and lacking in energy then the work you produce is not going to be your best. Get enough sleep and eat healthy, filling meals that will get you through even the most difficult of days.

Plan ahead – and remind yourself of your plan

Planning ahead and being able to stick to the plan is every self-employed person’s goal. Business moves quickly and often, you find yourself scheduling work into your diary weeks, months, sometimes even years in advance of the task. Whether you plan your schedule digitally or on paper, make sure you keep track of your appointments, deadlines and other important tasks.

The same can be said for day to day planning. If you know you need to complete a particular task within a certain amount of time, then using an app on your mobile phone alarm can ensure that you remain focused on the task, apps such as Forest can gamify your productivity. It can also ensure that you don’t spend too much time on something that could be completed quite quickly.

Being in competition with yourself and beating your own self-imposed expectations can push you to be the most productive you can possibly be.

Be realistic. Setting yourself unrealistic expectations isn’t going to benefit you in any way. In fact, it’ll probably have an adverse effect, and you’ll find yourself feeling unmotivated and lacking in positivity. If you believe you can, then you probably will. If you set yourself up to fail with overambitious targets then, quite frankly, you probably won’t.

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